Akil Baddoo hits walk-off single in 10th inning in Detroit Tigers’ 4-3 win over Twins

Detroit Free Press

Rule 5 draft pick Akil Baddoo — in just his third MLB game — delivered a walk-off single Tuesday in the 10th inning, giving the Detroit Tigers a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Twins.

With Harold Castro on third base, Baddoo drove a 2-1 slider to right field against Twins right-hander Hansel Robles. The Tigers improved to 3-2 with the victory.

It’s been an unbelievable three days for Baddoo, who homered on the first pitch in his MLB debut, crushed a grand slam in his second game and has now delivered a walk-off hit.

Baddoo entered as a pinch-runner in the bottom of the eighth inning.

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Jeimer Candelario gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth with a double. Robbie Grossman made it a two-run margin with a two-out single. But solo homers from Nelson Cruz (against Michael Fulmer) in the seventh and Byron Buxton (against Jose Cisnero) in the eighth tied the game.

Miguel Cabrera grounded into a 5-4-3 double play with one out in the ninth inning to send the game to extra innings.

Candelario kept the Tigers from falling behind in the top of the 10th, when he fielded a hard grounder from Buxton and threw out Jorge Polanco at home plate. Left-hander Gregory Soto pitched scoreless ninth and 10th innings, recording two strikeouts.

The Tigers take on the Twins at 1:10 p.m. Wednesday in the third of three games. Left-hander Matthew Boyd is starting, opposed by Twins righty Kenta Maeda.

Casey Mize’s 2021 debut

In the fourth inning, right-hander Casey Mize struggled to maintain the command he showed earlier in the game. He gave up a leadoff double to Max Kepler on a first-pitch slider. Willians Astudillo scored him in on a first-pitch sinker for a 1-0 lead.

GETTING IT TOGETHER: Tarik Skubal succeeds in 2021 debut vs. Cleveland: ‘He didn’t concede and unravel’

Besides the Kepler and Astudillo at-bats, Mize took the remaining five batters in the fourth inning to three-ball counts. In the first, second and third innings combined, only one batter — Jake Cave’s second-inning single — went to a three-ball count.

Mize walked the bases loaded with two outs in the fourth, but Luis Arraez flied out in a nine-pitch at-bat. (JaCoby Jones made a leaping catch against the left-center wall.) After getting behind 3-1 in the count, Mize forced Arraez to foul away four fastballs. Then, he got him out with his fifth fastball in a row.

Mize did not return for the fifth inning. He finished with one run on five hits and two walks, with four strikeouts. In the first frame, he struck out three of the four batters he faced: Arraez (slider, swinging), Polanco (slider, looking), Kepler (fastball, swinging). Cruz singled between the Polanco and Kepler at-bats.

Over Mize’s 82 pitches (50 strikes), he got 10 called strikes and five swings-and-misses — two each with his four-seamer and slider and one with his splitter.

Mize’s fastball averaged 96 mph and maxed out at 97.9 mph. Last season, his fastball averaged 93.7 mph.

Jonathan Schoop’s smarts

Right-handed reliever Bryan Garcia put himself in a tough situation when he made an error to open the fifth inning. Cabrera made a nice stop in the gap near first base, so Garcia dashed over to cover the base.

Although Garcia won the race against Polanco, his foot completely missed first base. Polanco stole second base and advanced to third when Cruz flied out — leaving Garcia with one out and a runner creeping toward home plate.

Manager AJ Hinch called his infield in. Kepler hit a broken-bat bouncer at second baseman Jonathan Schoop; Polanco darted home. He immediately threw to catcher Grayson Greiner, who caught the ball, turned his body to protect the plate and absorbed Polanco’s slide for the second out.

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The next batter, Rooker, struck out in a 3-2 count to end the frame without damage to the scoreboard.

Niko Goodrum, Robbie Grossman step up

Niko Goodrum needed a strong performance Tuesday, after going 1-for-7 with one walk and four strikeouts in his first two games.

Meanwhile, Grossman was still searching for his first hit in his fifth game. He was 0-for-8 with eight walks — leading the majors — and two strikeouts.

On Tuesday, Goodrum and Grossman both got what they wished for. In the fourth inning, Grossman raked a game-tying double. One inning later, he extended the Tigers’ lead to 3-1 with a two-out single to right field.

Tigers manager AJ Hinch: Harold Castro delivered ‘cleanest inning we had’ ]

Because Goodrum is a switch-hitter, Hinch had him lead off against left-hander J.A. Happ from the right side of the plate. Goodrum’s career batting average is much better as a right-handed hitter (.323) than a left-handed hitter (.205).

Goodrum went 3-for-5 with a double and did not strike out.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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